From learning to zip up a jacket to acing the SATs, problem solving is a skill that can never be learned too early and never stops being useful. Problem solving cannot be accurately described as a single skill, though; rather it is a complex set of skills that work together. Problem solving involves logic, associative reasoning, creative thinking, and deductive reasoning to move from a set of given principles or circumstances to the desired result.
Learning problem solving should start early in life so that the mind creates the appropriate pathways and builds a catalog of associations and knowledge that can be built upon later. The Critical Thinking Co. has developed a number of products to help young children learn problem solving skills before they even start Kindergarten. These tools use fun puzzles, riddles, and stories to start kids thinking critically and creatively.
Problem solving becomes even more crucial as math and science classes start getting progressively harder. For students who have not been exposed to much problem solving preparation, this is the time that they must start receiving the proper training. Though the explosive development of early childhood has passed, kids in their teens are still quite capable of rapidly developing problem solving and critical thinking skills.
Critical Thinking products are based on education, not on age. It is never too late to start thinking critically and developing strong analytical habits--though the longer you wait the harder it gets. Critical thinking is useful in any field of endeavor because it serves to create a deeper understanding of the subject matter or task at hand. Critical thinking and problem solving are intimately linked because they both require active participation and mental agility.